LASR.net Homepage




Menu

Jayhawk State Theatre of Kansas


category : Historic Theatres
Jayhawk State Theatre of Kansas On August 11, 1925, E.H. Crosby of the Crosby Brothers Company made the first announcement of his plans to provide the capital city of Kansas with a modern theatre. The Jayhawk Theatre opened its doors on August, 1926.

Placed on the national register of historic places in 1974, Topeka architect Thomas W. Williamson was the designer for the entire complex. It was later revealed that Mr. Williamson was the architect of record, and that the Boller Brothers, noted theatre designers from Kansas City, were actually responsible for the design of the theatre. These two brothers used the Jayhawk Theatre as a prototype for more than 300 theatres they designed in their career. Elements such as the air conditioning and its steel and concrete structure made the Jayhawk Theatre unique and a forerunner of its day.

In 1926, the theatre could seat an audience of 1500 people. A balcony capable of 650 seats faces the stage, with every person in the theatre having "the best seat in the house." The Boller Brothers? unique design incorporated steel trusswork and eliminated supporting columns in the auditorium, thereby allowing every seat to be a great one.

Serving primarily as a movie theatre, vaudeville acts also played on the Jayhawk?s stage. Radio station WIBW first broadcast from the stage in 1927.

In 1929, 14 year old Gypsy Rose Lee?s career was launched on the Jayhawk?s stage. Her sister eloped running off from the act minutes before they were to perform. Gypsy took her place center stage and a star was born.

In May of 1976, the curtain closed on the Jayhawk Theatre for the last time, after half a century of motion picture and stage entertainment. The Hotel Jayhawk, also closed shortly after the theatre, was renovated into the Jayhawk Tower office complex in 1982 and the theatre became cordoned off.

Kansas State Historical Society preservation officer Dr. Ramon Powers wrote a letter in 1992 stating, "that demolition of the building would damage the historic character of the Jayhawk and two adjacent buildings on the register: the Jayhawk Tower and the Davis Building."

City officials deterred demolition requests during 1992 and also declined offers to acquire the theatre. Concerned citizens stepped forward in January, 1993 with proposals to save the Jayhawk. Through those efforts, the Historic Jayhawk Theatre, Inc. was formed as a 501C3 charitable corporation and the theatre seemed destined for rebirth.

In 1993, the Kansas State Legislature designated the Jayhawk as the official State Theatre of Kansas.

The volunteer Board of Directors of The Jayhawk adopted a mission statement and goals to help guide through the restoration and operation. When re-opened, The Jayhawk will "provide a multi-purpose community theater which will enhance the cultural arts, business and education of the citizens of Kansas. The Jayhawk State Theatre of Kansas will celebrate Topeka's rich entertainment past and enhance downtown Topeka and provide a venue for cultural arts, business and education activities."



Address: 700 S.W. Jackson
Phone: 785-233-4295
Our Website:www.jayhawktheatre.com/

Come visit us in Topeka, Kansas

Attractions and Upcoming Events

Washburn University

Established in 1865, Washburn University is one of Topeka's greatest assets and is the only municipal university in the nation. The 160

Topeka, KS Colleges

Historic Ward-Meade Park Living Museum

History comes to life at Historic Ward-Meade Park as period dressed guides, including a "school marm," reenact prairie life circa 1900

Topeka, KS Museums

Kansas Museum of History

"You're living history" when you visit the Kansas History Center. An 1880 Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway locomotive, full-sized Cheyenne tipi, Wichita grass lodge, covered wagon, and log house are just a few of the many features in the Main Gallery at the Museum of History.

Topeka, KS Museums

Cedar Crest

The French-Norman style house which was built by Frank P. MacLennan in 1928, is home to the governor of Kansas. It is the focal point of a 200-acre estate overlooking the Kansas river. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the estate features several ponds and hiking trails.

Topeka, KS Famous Homes

Topeka ScareCrows Hockey

After three years as a professional team in the Central Hockey League, the Topeka ScareCrows are now in the United States Hockey League. The Crows compete against 12

Topeka, KS Professional Sports

Things to do Historic Theatres near Topeka, KS